Pakatan Harapan (PH) is willing to work with Umno to prevent PAS from winning the state again in the coming general election, its state chairman Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah Raja Ahmad said.
In an interview with The Malaysian Insight, the Amanah man, however, declined to call it a collaboration, but insisted it could be an “understanding”, which included swapping seats in the 15th General Election.
Pakatan and Umno are political rivals, while the latter enjoys an uneasy alliance with PAS and Bersatu at the federal level.
“Even though we are not under the same umbrella, our differences are not so significant. We are not attacking Umno, Umno is not attacking us either.
“I think we have an advantage; we can communicate, and there may be opportunities for understanding for us to focus on certain seats,” he said.
He added that Terengganu PH, however, “cannot sit and discuss” with PAS, unlike Umno.
Raja Kamarul explained that the proposed understanding with Umno could not be described as cooperation because the term had a formal connotation.
“There is room to discuss and tolerate for as long as Umno’s priority now is not PAS and our interests are aligned because PAS is damaging Terengganu.
“We have the same goal, which is to save Terengganu from PAS,” he said.
“Even if we clash seats, it will not be an intense one,” he said.
The Malaysian Insight previously reported that there was an effort between PH and Umno not to clash seats in Kelantan in order to overthrow PAS, which has ruled the state for the past three decades.
Kelantan and Terengganu are the states that PAS won in GE14. The Islamic party also governs Kedah, which it controls as a result of political squabbles more than two months after the Sheraton Move.
Last week, Amanah president Mohamad Sabu was reported to have called on his party and PH to be ready to face GE15, including negotiating with any party to strengthen its position.
He reminded that the negotiations, however, need to be mutually agreed upon by the parties in PH and decided at the federal level.
In GE14, PAS won 22 of the 32 state seats in Terengganu and took over the state administration from Barisan Nasional (BN) with a two-thirds majority.
Umno won the remaining 10 seats in the Terengganu state constituency, while 19 PH candidates contesting state seats lost their deposit money after getting less than one-eighth of the total votes of the winning candidate.
PH also did not win a single parliamentary seat in Terengganu, and three of its candidates even lost their deposits. PAS won six parliamentary seats while Umno won the remaining two, namely Hulu Terengganu and Besut.
Hulu Terengganu, however, now belongs to Perikatan Nasional (PN) after its MP Rosol Wahid left Umno in December 2019 to join Bersatu.
People are wary of Pakatan
Commenting on PH’s severe defeat in Terengganu in GE14, Raja Kamarul, who is also state Amanah chief, mentioned two factors –its state leaders and candidates are lesser known, and voters’ doubts about PH’s ability to govern the state.
The former Kuala Terengganu member of Parliament explained that Terengganu PH was still new at that time, and lacked experience, compared to Umno and PAS, both of which have been in the state government.
“Amanah was still new, Bersatu was not registered at that time so there was confusion among voters.
“They also only know Umno and PAS, so they had no idea of the new party,” he said.
Umno voters who rejected BN because they were angry over the Najib Razak administration scandal also voted for PAS and not for PH, he added.
Meanwhile, Raja Kamarul said Terengganu PH was working to improve all the weaknesses it identified during GE14, including strengthening the machinery and adding members.
Among PH’s challenges in Terengganu was reaching out to voters in conservative areas.
“It is quite difficult to read what the voters’ tendencies are even though we know their sentiments are clearly the rejection of the state government due to the failed performance of the PAS administration,” he said.
He also said the voters were fearful of openly showing their rejection of the PAS government as they risked being ostracized in mosques and from any community activities.
“So, in Terengganu, it’s like sitting in a ‘police state’ where everyone is careful and can’t express and criticise,” he said. – TMI